Inside of an altered Altoids tin that I crafted.
Lewis Carroll quote reads:
Either the well was very deep, or she was falling very slowly.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
I get tired of reading quotes and articles about why we shouldn't fear, why fear is such a bad thing. Sure, if you dwell in it, if you allow it to rule, you'll never live life fully. However, fear is around for a reason. It's a measure against the dark. It's what keeps every little kid on earth from taking the hand of a stranger and disappearing forever. It's what (one would hope) keeps us from going with some of our more breakneck ideas. Fear for our loved ones is noble, I think. What good mother doesn't fear for her children's safety and well being?
My mother has always been terribly afraid of water - swimming pools, lakes, rivers, oceans. She never learned to swim and I've never seen her do more than stand in water up to her hips. She would only do that much if she had something solid to hang on to, like the side of the pool or a railing. Otherwise, shin deep was good enough for Mrs. Black. That didn't keep her from ensuring that her children learn how to swim. We all did, and from a fairly young age - I don't remember not knowing how to swim. I have no idea how much lip biting it took for my mom to accompany us to the local pool or to the lake. I'm betting... a lot.
A little fear is a good thing. Fear is our Wait-A-Minute Button. Fear is our conscience saying, "You sure?" There's nothing wrong with that. It's when we give fear permission to rule, rather than guide that we have a problem. It's when we allow fear to say "No!" rather than "Wait a minute..." that we have issues.
A few years back I was at a local fair with a friend and his eleven year old son. The father gave the son a ticket and said, "Go ride the roller coaster." The son immediately blanched, and said, "No... I don't want to!" The father, unable to go on the ride because of a disability, said, "Sure you do... it's all you've been talking about. It's the whole reason we came here." An argument ensued. Uncomfortable with the situation (I could understand both sides), I interjected, "It'll be okay. I'll go with you. You can squeeze my hand and scream as much as you need or want to." The son, reluctantly and obviously under duress, acquiesced.
As we moved forward in line and handed over our tickets, I felt his fear, a palpable thing coming off of him in waves. Finally it was our turn. We got into the coaster's car and lowered the safety bar. He wrapped his hands around the safety bar in a death-grip. As the coaster lurched forward and up the first hill, I strained to hear the lad muttering, "I hate my dad I hate my dad I hate my dad." I suppressed my smile. He didn't scream as we went careening down the first hill, nor did he as we corkscrewed our way through the loops. He made it through the ride with a look of abject loathing on his face, not for a second loosening his grip on the safety bar. The ride came to a stop, we disembarked, and walked over to his dad. My friend asked the boy, "Well? How bad was it?" The son punched him on the shoulder and said, "I hate you." To his credit, my friend took it with good humor, and quiet acceptance. Then the kid did something completely unexpected. He looked up at the coaster, looked at his dad, looked back at the coaster, then turned back to his dad saying, "Give me another ticket."
The kid went on the coaster again by himself. Three more times. I'm not sure he enjoyed those rides any more than the first one. He just made up his mind that he wasn't going to cave to fear, and he for sure wasn't going to let his dad have one over on him.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
~Darling Do Not Fear, Brett Dennen